Michigan Wolverines vs. the Crimson Tide C odds
Jan. 1, 2019
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The Michigan Wolverines vs. the Crimson Tide Citrus Bowl Odds
It is not the game that Alabama wanted to play in or expects to play in every year. But with the loss to LSU, their shot at returning to the college football playoffs went on life support and then ended with a loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
So, for the first time in the short history of the College Football Playoff system, Alabama is not one of the four teams in the mix. To add insult to injury, without a win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, they will finish outside of the top ten for the first time since 2010 (finished No. 11 in the Coaches Poll).
But the real question may be whether the Crimson Tide are going to bring their ‘A’ game or not. They wouldn’t be the first team to fall short of their goal and then fail to bring their best game in the bowl they do go to.
It’s bad enough they didn’t make the CFP, but they didn’t even get a New Year’s Six games.
If Alabama were to come out flat, that could be just the break that Jim Harbaugh and the underdog Michigan Wolverines need. As things stand, Alabama, despite no Tua Tagoviola, is favored by a touchdown (via DraftKings).
However, with how Harbaugh had Michigan playing down the stretch (except for the Ohio State game), it is not hard to imagine the Wolverines pulling off the upset.
Citrus Bowl Over/Under: Ambitious Over Will Not Be Easy To Cover
Alabama has averaged over 48 points a game this season; Michigan has averaged 33. That would make it seem like an over/under of 58.5 not overly ambitious. However, Michigan has struggled against tougher defenses, and Alabama has one of the best units in the country (No. 15 points allowed/game; No. 16 in total yards).
But the more significant issue may be whether Mac Jones can handle the Michigan defense. The Wolverines defense ranked inside the top ten in total yards allowed per game (No. 7; 292.8) and in passing yards allowed per game (No. 5; 173.8). They were still stingy against the run (No. 23; 119.1) but gave up more points (No. 19; 19.5) than you would think considering the yards allowed.
Usually, defensive stats would mean nothing to an Alabama team. But Mac Jones is still a relatively unknown commodity. The sophomore only played in a handful of games this season and started even fewer. While he shredded the best defense he faced (Auburn) for 335 yards and four touchdowns, he also threw two interceptions, and Alabama lost the game.
Auburn’s defense isn’t as good as Michigan (statistically speaking), so—what does that tell us?
Honestly—not much; it just isn’t much of a sample size. But if it must tell us something, it is that Jones has talent. He may not be as refined as Nick Saban would like his starting quarterback to be, but at this point in the season, he doesn’t have a choice.
Regarding the over/under—Shea Patterson is playing one of the toughest defenses he has faced all season. Mac Jones is facing the toughest defense he has seen all season. It doesn’t look like this game is going to have a lot of offensive fireworks.
Then again, with Mac Jones under center, the Alabama offense scored 48 (vs. Arkansas), 66 (vs. VCU), and 45 (vs. Auburn). So, there is potential for points in a Mac Jones-led offense.
As for Michigan, the Wolverines did play against three defenses ranked inside the top 15 in points allowed (Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame). They did lose two of those three games, but Shea Patterson did guide the team to at least three touchdowns in each game.
While they didn’t win, Michigan did score against the best defenses they saw.
So—who’s going to win?
It is hard to imagine anyone shutting down the Alabama offense. Mac Jones is a capable passer and has a trio of future NFL receivers to work with. Their run game may not be as dominant as usual, but it is still hard to beat.
For the underdog Wolverines to beat the favorite, Alabama, Shea Patterson needs to play a mistake-free turnover-free game, which is something he rarely does. Does that mean it can’t happen here? Of course not.
But do you want to count on it?
Wisconsin Slight Favorite Over Oregon odds
Jan. 1, 2019
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Wisconsin Badgers. The Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl Odds
When many college football fans think about the Oregon Ducks, they are still going to envision a high scoring, high-flying offense that puts up a ton of points. While their offense is quite capable of generating some points, their identity comes more from their defense now.
The Ducks defense is ranked inside the top ten in scoring with just 15.7 points/game allowed (No. 9 in the country).
Wisconsin’s identity draws a lot from what fans would expect with a guy like Jonathan Taylor in the backfield—the run game (No. 15; 240.5 yards/game). But their defensive prowess deserves as much credit for their success as the run game.
They are ranked inside the top 15 in the country in total yards allowed (No. 8; 293.5 yards/game), rushing yards allowed (No. 9; 102.4 yards/game), passing yards allowed (No. 15; 191.2 yards/game), and scoring (No. 10; 16.1 points/game).
So, what do you get when two such teams face off in the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl? You get one of the toughest matchups of the bowl season—but a game that is also a rarity. The higher ranked team, No. 8 Wisconsin, is the favorite (-3 via DraftKings).
The Pac-12 champions, No. 6 Oregon, are the underdogs.
Rose Bowl Over/Under: Does A Potential Defensive Battle Mean You Should Take The Under?
With two teams that feature such strong defensive play, a relatively low point total would be expected for the over/under. However, while both sides are stingy with the points, both are capable of putting some points on the board.
Oregon averaged 35.9 a game during the regular season (No. 15), and Wisconsin averaged 34.6 (No. 21).
So, yes— the over/under (51.5) does respect the dominant defenses of each team. But it also gives credit to each offense as well. But with two such defenses, are fans in for a slugfest? Not necessarily.
The trick for Oregon is going to be slowing down Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Taylor sits 91 yards away from becoming the first player since Troy Davis (Iowa State, 1995-96) to have back-to-back 2000-yard seasons.
“Whenever you’re able to represent your university, especially with the program we had, with the running backs that came through our program,” Taylor told reporters recently via ESPN. “To do right by those guys, it’s always good.”
Taylor ran for 200+yards four times this season, including a three-game stretch where he had 200+ in each contest. But he didn’t blow everyone away this season; he only ran for 52 against Ohio State back in October and 76 against Minnesota.
Oregon’s No. 11 ranked run defense will have it work cut out for it, but they could slow him down.
Rose Bowl Odds: Can Jonathan Taylor Finish Off His Great Career in Style
If the Ducks defense can slow down Taylor, then Wisconsin could be in trouble. While they have an efficient passing offense, they are not a great passing team (No. 95; 201.2 yards/game). When the passing game works, it can be great.
During the first half of the Big Ten title game, they ran and threw the ball at will and went into halftime with a 21-7 lead. But their offense struggled in the second, and Ohio State started finding holes in their defense.
It was basically a tale of two halves in that game.
To beat a quality team like the Ducks, Wisconsin will need to get Jonathan Taylor on track early and have some success in the passing game. They will need to keep the pressure on Oregon to score.
While the Ducks can move the ball well, they are not great when they get in the red zone (No. 96 in red-zone efficiency). So, if Wisconsin can build a lead, Oregon may have a hard time mounting a comeback attempt.
However, at the same time, if Oregon builds a lead on Wisconsin and forces the Badgers to throw more, Wisconsin could find itself in trouble.
So—who’s going to win?
Both defenses are going to play well, so it will come down to who can get the most out of their offense. Against Oregon’s defense, the Badgers offense could struggle since it is so dependent on the run game.
The onus may fall on the Wisconsin defense to keep Oregon’s passing game and run game in check—which the Ducks will not make easy. Look for this one to be a low-scoring hard-fought battle with the winner being the team that makes the fewest mistakes
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. the Auburn Tigers odds
Jan. 1, 2019
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The Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. the Auburn Tigers: Outback Bowl Odds
When Auburn fans look back upon the 2019 season, they are going to do so fondly—because they beat Alabama. Not only did they beat their hated rival, but they kept them from heading back to the college football playoffs.
Nothing other than a national championship trumps beating your rival and ending their title dreams.
But a good season could become a great one with a win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Outback Bowl. For just the third time in the Gus Malzahn Era, they can finish the season with ten wins. They can also finish ranked for the fifth time in seven years.
However, a win could be just as valuable if not more so to P.J Fleck and the Golden Gophers. Minnesota is going to enter the game as the No. 18 team in the nation. While a loss may not knock them out of the top 25, if it is bad enough, it could.
A win would guarantee a top-25 finish or the first time since the 2003 season.
Victory will not come easy for either team. Statistically speaking, both have good offenses but better defenses. That could mean we have a good, hard-fought, close game on deck here.
But if they are evenly matched, how come Auburn is favored by more than a touchdown (-7.5 via DraftKings) over the underdog Golden Gophers? Are oddsmakers giving Auburn’s SEC schedule that much credit over Minnesota’s Big Ten schedule?
Outback Bowl Odds: So Similar It’s Scary
Without a history between the two teams or some common opponents, how do you judge how one team is going to perform against another? One of the first things you do is look at the stats to judge how each team has performed. But in the case of Minnesota and Auburn, that isn’t much help.
Their stat lines are almost identical.
Minnesota averaged 34.3 points/game during the regular season; Auburn averaged 34. The Golden Gophers allowed 22.4 points per game; Auburn allowed 18.6. Minnesota outgained Auburn by just 5.7 yards a game (426.8 versus 421.1). But how they earned those yards was one of the few places where their stat lines varied.
Minnesota was better in the passing game (251.2 yards/game) than Auburn (210.1). But the Tigers were a better running team (211.0 to 175.7 for Minnesota).
Things are similar on the defensive side of the ball. Auburn allowed 323.9 total yards a game relative to 312.8 for Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were a little tougher against the pass (184.9 to 208.4 for Auburn). But Auburn is tougher against the run (115.5 yards/game allowed relative to 127.9 for Minnesota).
So, both teams are basically good on both sides of the ball. Neither is great at anything, but it is safe to say they are good. But when two good teams meet, something has to give.
Both teams had their offensive coordinators leave since the end of the regular season. Auburn brought in former Arkansas head coach Chad Morris. Minnesota chose to promote from within and go with wide receivers coach Greg Harbaugh. Since Harbaugh is not new to the program, the edge goes to Minnesota. But the Auburn offense is probably not going to be turned over to Morris for the bowl game.
Outback Bowl Over/Under: Can the Gophers and Tigers Cover the O/U
Both will be down a defender for the game; Auburn pass-rush specialist Nick Cole is preparing for the draft as is Minnesota linebacker Kamal Martin.
There just doesn’t seem to be a significant difference one way or the other for either team. So—how come Auburn is a 7.5-point favorite? What makes Minnesota such an underdog? Will they cover the over (53.5 points)?
The answer to the first two questions is simple— strength of schedule.
Minnesota only played three ranked teams and lost to two of them. But the one they did beat, Penn State was the No. 4 team in the country at the time. Auburn, on the other hand, played six— including three in the top five.
Now they lost to two of those three (LSU and Georgia; also lost to then-No. 10 Florida). However, in the process, they became a more battle-tested team. When you play better teams, you learn how you can elevate your game—and Auburn did when they faced Alabama in their regular season finale (and won).
It’s not much to go off, but Auburn’s schedule does give them an edge. Does it give them a touchdown edge?
That’s for you to decide.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Baylor Bears odds
Jan. 1, 2019
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Georgia Bulldogs vs. Baylor Bears Sugar Bowl Odds
Playing in a game like the Sugar Bowl is a big deal. That alone should be more than enough motivation for any player to give his best, but it didn’t seem to work for the Georgia Bulldogs last year. So, what’s to say it is going to be any different this year.
Last season, the Bulldogs were a touchdown favorite against a young, exciting, up-and-coming Texas Longhorns team and lost. This year, they are a 5.5-point favorite (via DraftKings) against another young, exciting, up-and-coming team from the state of Texas—the underdog Baylor Bears.
If you are getting a sense of déjà vu, you are not alone. It certainly doesn’t help that the Bulldogs are going to be missing quite a few guys. Both starting offensive tackles, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson are skipping the game to prepare for the draft.
A third offensive lineman, Ben Cleveland, will miss the game due to grades. Defensive back J.R. Reed will be out with an injury. Defensive tackle Tyler Clark, tailback Brian Herrien, and safety Divaad Wilson.
With three of his starting offensive line and shoulder injuries of his own, it would not be shocking if running back D’Andrew Swift were to sit out, but no such announcement has been made. Factor in Jake From’s struggles down the stretch, and this one does not look promising for the Bulldogs.
Baylor, on the other hand, comes into the game ready to announce their presence to the world. Beating a member of the all-powerful SEC would undoubtedly be a great way to do just that.
Sugar Bowl Over/Under: Points Will Be Hard To Come By
The Baylor Bears are a good team in every sense of the word. They rank inside the top 51 in the country in most of the significant statistical categories on offense: total offense (No, 46), rushing offense (No. 50), passing offense (No. 41), scoring offense (No. 17).
The same can be said on the defensive side of the ball: total defense (No. 40), rushing defense (No. 51), passing defense (No. 48), and scoring defense (No. 16).
If anything can be said about Baylor from a statistical perspective, it is that they play better than the stats indicate. They rank so much lower in scoring on both sides of the ball than every other category– which means they make the most of every possession on offense and never give up on defense.
However, the Baylor offense has yet to face a defense quite like the one Georgia has. The Bulldogs may be missing a couple of players from the defensive side, but the majority of the defense that earned a top-five ranking in total defense (No. 4), rushing defense (No. 3) and scoring (No. 2).
With how bad the Bears struggled against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, it is hard to see them moving the ball much against Georgia. Yes, Baylor did see two quarterbacks go down, and the third led a furious comeback late in the game—but Oklahoma’s defense can’t compare to Georgia’s.
Baylor is not going to score a lot; with all of the players that Georgia is going to be missing on offense, they are likely going to struggle to put up points on the Bears defense. That explains why the over/under is one of if not the lowest of the bowl season (41.5 points)—which could still be hard to cover.
Sugar Bowl Odds: So—who’s going to win?
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart talks like his players are going to be more focused than they were last year, via ESPN:
“We’ve been focusing on three things. We talked to our players about three things. You’re going to hear this common theme probably among our players because for 11 practices, they’ve been hearing about this trip, this team, and this game, and that’s really it. It’s a one-game season for us.”
However, no amount of focus can make up for the number of starters the favored Bulldogs are going to be missing. Underdog Baylor, on the other hand, is not going to have anyone missing. Quarterback Charlie Brewer who left the Big 12 title game with a concussion, is expected to play.
“Our guys value the opportunity to compete. I think they value the opportunity to compete against one of the best teams in the country,” Baylor head coach Matt Rhule told the media, via ESPN. “What a great measuring stick for us as a program, our players. And we have a lot of guys that — everyone is going to play.”
Hmmm… you almost have to wonder if oddsmakers should have made Baylor the favorite and Georgia the underdog.
Tennessee Volunteers vs. the Indiana Hoosiers Odds
Jan. 2, 2019
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Tennessee Volunteers vs. the Indiana Hoosiers Gator Bowl Odds
When it comes to bowl season, two teams rarely mentioned once it begins are the Tennessee Volunteers and the Indiana Hoosiers—because they usually don’t qualify. But this season is different.
Tennessee is going to finish the year with a winning record for the first time since the 2016 season—which was the last time the Volunteers went bowling. Indiana last went bowling back in 2016, but since they lost the Foster Farms Bowl, they still finished with a losing record.
But with eight regular season wins, Indiana is guaranteed to end the season with a winning record for the first time since the 2007 season. Their last bowl win came in 1991 at the Copper Bowl.
So, yeah—it is a game between two teams that are not accustomed to playing this late in the year. Watching them may seem like a letdown after the slate of games on New Year’s Day. However, both are capable of playing good football.
This is a game that some football fans are going to overlook because they are not familiar with either team. They will not know why Tennessee is a 1.5-point favorite (via DraftKings) against the underdog Hoosiers.
But they will regret not watching this game Thursday night when their friends are talking about it at work Friday morning.
Gator Bowl Over/Under: Will These Two Score 53 Points Or More?
One of the great things about games like this one is that you just don’t know how it is going to play out. With games between top-ranked teams, it is a little easier since we’ve all seen a lot more of them. But when it comes to two teams that only qualify as ‘good,’ it becomes more challenging.
Will the two teams combine for more than 53 points and cover the over?
Are they truly good, or did they just beat up on lesser teams and then lose to the good ones on their schedule?
Tennessee could actually be better than their record indicates. They lost badly to three teams that should have destroyed them (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) but were competitive in every other game, including two of their losses (BYU and Georgia State).
Because of their schedule, their stats do not paint a pretty picture. They finished the year ranked No. 101 in total offense, No. 87 running the ball, and No. 77 throwing it. As for scoring, they barely averaged more on offense (No. 98; 24.3 points/game) than they allowed on defense (No. 29; 21.7 points/game).
While they are not an impressive offensive team, the Volunteers are not bad on defense. They ranked No. 27 in total yards allowed, No. 53 against the run, and No. 16 against the pass.
If they are going to beat the underdog Hoosiers, the Volunteers are going to need that pass defense to be at its best. Indiana isn’t too concerned about running the ball (No. 99; 134.9 yards/game). But they are one of the better teams in the country when it comes to throwing it (No. 14; 308.7 yards/game).
Tennessee could find it tough to move the ball on the Hoosiers as well. Indiana, while they don’t have a great defensive unit, it’s a good one: total defense (No. 37), rushing defense (No. 45), passing defense (No. 43), and scoring defense (No. 46).
Gator Bowl Odds to Win: Hoosier Daddy?
On paper, it looks like Indiana should be the favorite over Tennessee. So, then how come oddsmakers made Tennessee the favorite and Indiana the underdog? Is it another case of SEC-bias by the oddsmakers?
Tennessee lost the games they should have lost and played just well enough to win the ones they did win. Since they played an SEC schedule, oddsmakers must be giving them more credit for beating the non-elites in the SEC than they are Indiana for beating the non-elites in the Big Ten.
Like Tennessee, Indiana beat the teams they should have beaten and were destroyed by the ones that should have destroyed them. Perhaps, if they had defeated one team that they shouldn’t have, Indiana would be the favorite to win. But instead, they lost to all four (Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State).
So—who’s going to win? Will it be the favorite, Tennessee, or the underdog, Indiana?
Indiana may have the edge in motivation. Should they win, it will be their ninth win of the season. The last time an Indiana football team won nine games was 1967. Other than the ’67 season, Indiana football only has one other nine-win season (1945).
Of course, not everyone is concerned with history. Tennessee will likely be motivated to win and prove that the program is indeed on its way back to relevancy.
Boston College Eagles vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Odds
Jan. 2, 2019
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Boston College Eagles Preview
The Boston College Eagles’ 3-1 start dissolved into a 6-6 finish that brought an end to the Steve Addazio coaching era after seven seasons. Wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell leads BC into its fifth bowl in nine seasons before he hands the coaching handsets to Jeff Hafley, whose duties as Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator came to an end in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
On the field, the Eagles will miss star running back AJ Dillon (1,685 yards, 14 touchdowns), who is preparing for the draft after leading the nation’s fifth-best ground attack. The spotlight falls on backup David Bailey, who ran for 816 yards and seven TDs this year.
Cincinnati Bearcats Preview
The Cincinnati Bearcats pushed for a spot in the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked team from the Group of 5 conferences but couldn’t get past Memphis in the regular-season finale or in the American Athletic Conference’s title game. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is good to go for the bowl after dealing with a shoulder injury in November that kept him out of the first Memphis game and limited his downfield throws in the second.
Even with their full-service passing game restored, the Bearcats won’t forget to use running back Michael Warren II, who has 2,489 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns over the past two seasons.